52 MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE like Tolstoy, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir James Barrie, who have in them so much native childishness, which, combined with experience of fact, gives them that capacity for eternal youth which we call immortality. All this is, however, pure Taoism, in theory and practice, for there is no profounder collection of a concentrated roguish philosophy of life than that contained in the five thousand words of Laotse's Taotehking. Taoism, in theory and practice, means a certain roguish nonchalance, a confounded and devastating scepticism, a mocking laughter at the futility of all human interference and the failure of all human institutions, laws, government and marriage, and a certain disbelief in idealism, not so much because of lack of energy as because of a lack of faith. It is a philosophy which counteracts the positivism of Confucius, and serves as a safety-valve for the imperfections of a Confucian society. For the Confucian outlook on life is positive, while the Taoistic outlook is negative, and out of the alchemy of these two strange elements emerges the immortal thing we call Chinese character.1 Hence a]! Chinese are Confucianists when successful, and Taoists when they are failures. The Confucianist in us builds and strives, while the Taoist in us watches and smiles. There- fore when a Chinese scholar is in office he moralizes, and when he is out of office he versifies, and usually it is good Taoistic poetry. That explains why almost all Chinese scholars write poetry, and why in almost all collected works of Chinese writers, poetry occupies the better and greater half. For Taoism, like morphia, is strangely benumbing and therefore strangely soothing. It relieves Chinese headaches and heartaches. Its romanticism, its poetry and its worship of nature serve the Chinese as handsomely in times of trouble and disorder as Confucianism serves them in times of peace aad national integration. In that way it provides a safe retreat for the Chinese human heart and a balm for the Chinese soul, when the flesh is submitted to trials and tribulations. The poetry of Taoism alone has made the rigoristic life on the Confucian pattern endurable, and its romanticism has saved 1 So fax as this negative attitude toward life is concerned, Buddhism is merely Taoism a little touched in its -wits.